The decision by a group of activists to seize a small, remote federal building in a corner of Oregon has roots that burrow into a lot of political and social threads. There are gun rights issues, religious overtones, broad strains of anti-government sentiment and even the tactics of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
But there's also the very particular question of how much land the government controls in the state -- the same question that animated the dispute with rancher Cliven Bundy in Nevada two years ago -- and that helped motivate Bundy's son Ammon to take a lead role in the Oregon standoff.
As we noted Sunday, the Oregon dispute began with the government's push to ensure that Dwight and Steven Hammond, a father and son who were convicted of arson in 2012, served the minimum sentences that their convictions mandated. (Both already have served time, but less than the five-year minimum.) The Hammonds set a fire in 2001 that spread out of control on federal land. The government argued that the two were trying to cover up an illegal deer hunt.
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